Blood Riders

I only made it about a third of the way through Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin before I had to give up. Unlike a lot of the books that I end up giving up on reading, the mechanics of the writing in this one weren’t particularly bad. The pacing was a little bit off, but I assume things would have picked up had I stuck with it.

No, I simply couldn’t deal with this book because the characters were idiots. Now, being set as it is in the early west, I expected the characters to potentially lack schooling, to perhaps be rough-and-ready sorts who didn’t think deeply on the meaning of life but who were good in a scrap. Instead what I got were characters who were described by the author as being intelligent, but whose every action and scrap of dialog painted them as anything but. Although in fairness, I suppose the main character did know the word “hyperbole”. That’s a pretty big word. Too bad when he used it he was saying something stupid.

On top of the characters I simply couldn’t bring myself to respect were a lot of places where the author claimed things that really strained the bounds of credibility for me. And then he would spend paragraphs or pages talking about them. I mean seriously, folks. Bullets made out of wood? Bullets with hollow sections inside for holy water? Steam-powered guns that are more powerful than normal combustion guns?

Pull the other one. It’s got bells on.

Oh, and the main character’s batmobile stand-in is a special train outfitted for fighting vampires. Because presumably vampires obligingly never stray very far away from the tracks.

Yeah, not the book for me. You might enjoy it if you want a wild west steampunk vampire crossover novel and don’t really care about the quality of the characters or logic of the world, I suppose.

Plot summary

The plot summary contains spoilers! Show it anyway.

Rather than one of my traditional plot summaries, I decided to write an approximate rendition of what goes through the mind of the main character for the first third of the book:

Arg, blood drinking monsters! Everyone’s dead!

Prison sucks. But I’m a badass, so no one will mess with me because I give them The Look.

So I have to fight blood drinking monsters, which are apparently called vampires, or rot in prison? Some choice.

Hey, my friend knows kung fu! And also everything magical from every non-white culture ever, because he is the product of miscegenation. (Ha, just kidding! I don’t know the word “miscegenation”; they only taught me about hyperbole at West Point. I just know he has more grandparents than I can count, every one of whom is from a different culture that knows everything about magical creatures.)

Ooh! Historical cameo! Ooh! Literary cameo! My readers must feel Extra Special Smart for catching those.

Guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, steam powered guns, guns that shoot wooden bullets, guns, guns, guns, big guns, small guns, guns, guns, guns. Good thing our cook has apparently perfected the art of making anything at all ever. I can’t imagine where we would get all these nonsensical gadgets otherwise.

I am a total badass whose ancestors were ninjas, because nothing and nobody can sneak up on me.

Why are all these people following me all the time, anyway? Maybe that prison time really toned my ass or something.

I am a tactical genius, but somehow cannot avoid pissing off every single powerful person I meet. Or speak in complex sentences. That’s cool, though! I respect my part-Chinese Tonto stand-in because unlike most people of this time period, I am not racist. In point of fact, I have no flaws because I am an Action Hero.

It’s too bad that not much of anything is actually happening. Oh well! Guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns, guns…